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Two Christmas Traditions, One Happy Holiday?

October 30, 2007

Tim and I have been trying to decide how we want to celebrate Christmas this year, since Gabe is getting old enough to enjoy many of the Christmas trappings, and we want to build memories and traditions that mean something for us. Unfortunately we won’t be spending Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with our families because of Tim’s work schedule, so we’ll have to have start some of our own.

I’m trying to decide what should be our traditional Christmas feast. We love turkey, but that’s just so Thanksgiving-ish. In general I try to avoid pork, so a ham is not really appealing (we eat turkey ham anyway). I’ve had roast goose,… and it’s a possibility, but I’m not very convinced. I’m thinking of doing roast beef (or roast beast, from Suess’s The Grinch) and I could always have fun with that,… a great recipe requires cinnamon sticks and cloves, and I’m sure I could fashion a reasonable beast out of that! Add something like Christmas pudding and we’ve got a nice melding of new and (very) old traditions.

If we move closer to our families, then I am totally taking on the family Christmas. I love the peace, joy and love that is such a focus that time of year,… and I love celebrating with family!

My real concern is what to do about Santa Claus:

In my family, Jesus is the reason for the season. We focus on family and faith, and Santa really isn’t a part of that. When I was old enough to ask, my mom told me that Santa was imaginary. She told me that she felt that saying otherwise would be deceiving her kids, and she didn’t want to risk losing our trust like that. Now that I’m the Mom, I really have this desire to do the same thing with Gabe. When Gabe is an adult I hope he realizes that I treated him with dignity and respect right from the start.

However, in Tim’s family, the presents are STILL from Santa, and you can’t say you don’t believe, or you don’t get anything. I chuckled at this when Tim and I were dating because it’s cute and kind of sweet. I still think it’s cute and sweet. Part of the problem is that I can tell Santa is a big part of his family’s Christmas traditions, and I don’t want to treat those traditions lightly either.

Do I let Gabe experience the childhood belief in Santa, and in doing so reject my family’s beliefs and traditions? Or do I tell Gabe the truth and reject Tim’s family traditions?

The closest thing Tim and I can think of as a “middle ground” is this: We can talk to Gabe about Santa as a symbol of generosity. We can focus on how Santa is a storybook character that encourages generosity. We can make it a game to “play Santa” while doing things that make our loved ones feel special. I don’t want to reject or vilify the concept of Santa. I just want to keep the line between reality and imagination very clear, especially for young children who are unable to distinguish between the two.

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